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El Paso's Scenic Overlooks


El Paso's scenery is a unique combination of desert and rugged mountains.  The city is located within the Chihuahuan Desert, features the peaks of the Franklin Mountains, and shares a border along the Rio Grande.  It is in this setting that over 700 thousand people live.  

Sunset in El Paso

Just north of Downtown, the Franklin Mountains begin to rise.  Along both Rim Road and Scenic Drive, there are many overlooks of the city, Ciudad Juarez in Mexico, and the Chihuahuan Desert.


The most popular vantage point is the Murchison Park Overlook on Scenic Drive.  The idea of a sightseeing route along the base of the Franklin Mountains dates to 1881.  Nearly 40 years later, the 1.82-mile roadway opened to the general public.  During the 1930s, two projects paved the road and added drainage culverts.

Nightfall in El Paso and Juarez.

The scenic two-lane roadway winds to a point 500 feet above the city and the Rio Grande.  The drive offers breathtaking views of the El Paso Skyline, Juarez, and nearby areas.  Murchison Overlook is very popular for locals and visitors alike.  Weekend evenings can be busy, and gates on both the east and west ends of Scenic Drive can control traffic.  


The overlook is popular for couples young and old, marriage proposals, senior pictures, and more.  Murchison Park incorporates the rocky terrain of the Franklin Mountains that allow for many great vantage points.

Scenic Drive and Murchinson Park is not the only location to take in great views of El Paso and the Chihuahuan Desert.  Tom Lea Park, located on 900 Rim Road, offers amazing views from a slightly lower altitude.

Downtown El Paso from Tom Lea Park

Known as the "Upper Park," the park sits above El Paso High School and allows for closer views of the city.  It is a more level park with grassy areas that make it more kid and pet-friendly.  It's easy to have a picnic here or relax and enjoy the surroundings.  

The Red 'X', La Equis, is in Juarez's Plaza de la Mexicanidad.

The views here make the park a great alternative to Scenic Drive or a stop on your way to or from the Murchinson Overlook.  

Both locations offer amazing views of El Paso and its surroundings.  They are both must-stops when I visit - and even if you are passing through on Interstate 10 - it's worth the 30-45 minute trip off the highway.

All photos taken by post author.

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